If Flatfoot 56 is a rambunctious mosh pit, then 6’10” — the folky side project for frontman Tobin Bawinkel — is like going for a stroll on a summer evening. Bawinkel and company have unplugged their guitars and traded in the bagpipes for a violin for their first album as Americana folk act 6’10” (which, not conspicuously, is Bawinkel’s height). The Humble Beginnings of a Rovin’ Soul may be a folk album, but you can sense the punk roots bubbling beneath the surface. Bawinkel brings his usual flare for great songwriting, but here with his new crew, he takes a more heartfelt and personal route, mulling the loneliness of being on the road, feeling trapped by the mundane goings on of life and finding hope after loss.
Sonically, 6’10” has a mix of fun, upbeat tunes mixed with the conventional slower, somber ballads. There isn’t a bad song on the album; “Timothy,” “Hurricane,” and “Backpack” all showcase the band at their best. Bawinkel’s husky vocals are joined by a couple guest vocalists on a few songs; “Backpack” is a great song with the vocalists telling the story of two men trading tales from their travels around the world — only to be yanked out of their fantasies to go back to their humdrum lives working in the factory.
Flatfoot fans will feel right at home listening to 6’10” because, at its heart, it’s still Bawinkel. Plus, like Bawinkel, there’s a lot to love.